Warming because of CO2
overshadows warming attributable to all other sources combined, even CFC's that trap 10,000 times more heat per molecule. The vast stores of CO2 and methane that nature itself may unlock as feedback to the rising world thermometer could magnify global warming beyond all proportion to man-made gasses. Ill health effects of irritating near-surface pollutants remain too little studied. Yet, far greater and as yet unknown dimensions of danger derive from harmonic changes among formerly predictable cycles already started at every scale in this dynamically woven planet.
We literally cannot foresee what
unwitting outcome this first, and likely only, human-initiated earth-changing experiment might produce. Our era is a most exciting time to live! Natural rapid climate shifts dot prehistory, and usually allowed life to gradually adjust to the new conditions. Ocasionally, effects of such shifts occur so rapidly that extinctions and new ecological niches appear. This happened between some 16,000 and 8,000 years ago just prior to the dawn of the known history of civilization, when three great global superfloods erupted from ice-age glacial meltdown, each wiping out almost all memory of what came before it. Many pleistocene creatures and apparently also human cities suffered extinction, though scientific study of underwater ruins have only recently begun. Such a change in macroclimate may likely involve changing relationships and rules still opaque to modern science.
Staggering effects will be apparent to our progeny
far more than they are apparent to us today. Global warming evidence to date has been accumulating at a snail's pace, but just as surely as the human population bloom accelerated exponentially, so will hard evidence of global threats posed by climate change.
- Crisis-level climactic step-jumps that re-balance longstanding equations into radically shifted forms
- changes of frequency, magnitude and duration in harmonic patterns among ocean, atmosphere and lifeforms as they interact
- surprising and irreversible environmental kickbacks,
- living species blooms and crashes, even, or perhaps unavoidably, involving humankind.
Upon all living things,
global warming may for better, or more often than not for worse, force changes in rules of nature taught today.
Some anthropogenic (human-caused) effects are already visible, such as the hole that you and I helped spray-paint, refrigerate and aircondition into an essential atmospheric layer that protected all life before our time from ionizing space radiation: the ozone layer.
You and I witnessed the warmest global average winter temperatures on record with NOAA during 2000-2001 (substitute the most recent past year for most of the future). Largely as result of human activities, biodiversity we knew as children may reportedly require 20,000 future human generations to recover to recent levels in the mass extinction of species currently underway.
Unfortunately, within my remaining lifetime the loss of the cool, stable, "clean" Earth that I grew upon as a lad in CE 1960's now seems as certain as the likelihood of an unsustainable human population.
two principles have hit home:
- :( The longer we wait to understand and engage inevitable problems, the less likely a desirable outcome.
- :) The most direct solutions, conceived in a mentality of abundance rather than scarcity, are frequently the more effective.
Let us proactively decelerate to near abandonment the use of carbon-containing fuels and atmospheric combustion processes for the provision of energy on earth.
Carbon-containing combustion fuels must be retired in rank order of lower carbon density as quickly as possible. Retired, too, must be "green" (renewable) carbon-based fuels, to give preference to the natural cycles which living things most enjoy. We must move to completely solar energy sources, whether that energy be captured under the atmosphere at the poor rates prevalent here, or whether humans decide to follow a dream as I outline herein to capture and utilize prime solar energy by concentrating and transmitting the sunlight.
We should volunteer to do this, not because the conventional fuels Westernized economies depend upon have become difficult to procure, but instead because their continued use will exacerbate a harsh climacteric, already in motion, to which every participant will submit under increasingly savage terms: future life will adapt or die. Sadly, much of it is already doomed by inaction at the end of the 20th Century, and I pray that our offspring are not untimely victims of the same.
In place of carbon-based fuels,
Let us rapidly pilot space-based Earth energy development and transmission capabilities. There is no reason that natually concentrated hydrocarbon fuels should not be replaced by human-concentrated raw sunlight as directed for our convenience to Earth proximity. Any economist must concede that such a project would undoubtedly engage economic forces beyond all of our prior experience while providing a grand unifying endeavor for the betterment of people and life everywhere in our solar system.
Perhaps we could begin by refining safe, large-area orbit-to-earth-station microwave power transmission sourced by large, dependable orbiting atomic fission to fill the immediate power gap even as surface point sources are terminated. For safety's sake, though reactors may be simple unmanned and unshielded units, they must be placed high above any danger to orbiting craft and earth's atmosphere below, and able to be reliably discarded at any sign of trouble. Under their own reactive power, all but a necessary backup supply of these temporary satellites should be discarded directly into the sun soon after humans research, manufacture and deploy sufficient multiple constellations of robotically coordinated, thick-edged "mirrors" made with indigenous solar system materials and using appropriate techniques in low gravity on moon orbit or the surface of Earth's moon.
Bundled and launched in massive volumes from the moon into the ferocious depths of close-orbit solar wind, these packages will blossom into distant, tuned, glinting arrays that consolidate huge amounts of solar emission into powerful solar laser tributaries that will be directed to bend into the space near earth's position at all times.
Season after season
arrays of heavy mirrors will, en-masse and in stages, cohere the superabundant dissipating waves of solar-space radiation into a vectored, laser-like river of sufficiently dense light energy to power nearly all earth-based energy systems, perhaps for several millions of years to come. The mirrors may be flat-sided boulders of moon material or, I believe more likely, big blocks of iron landed on the moon from blasting locations in the asteroid belt, milled to perfectly flat planes and coated with some excellent durable reflector. In any case these chunky mirrors must be heavy enough to resist random jostling in solar radiation at fairly close range to the sun. While whizzing in solar orbit at a velocity higher than that of the planet Mercury, these arrays must with smooth precision track the minute adjustments of earth's position in it's orbit.
I imagine quite large numbers of duplicative mirror arrays spaced evenly around the sun in a pattern similar to GPS satellites that buzz around the hive of Earth. I envision each array contributory to the operational stream of raw power for a brief time when tracked to an optimal alignment that put its coherant solar pulse into a beam bound for near-Earth space, at other times overflowing harmlessly into deep space. As one array "faded" from alignment in its orbit, others would come into play, providing a beam of white light of base strength many times sufficient to provide for the Earth's future power requirements.
Receptor arrays in very high Earth orbit would be robust photovoltaic converters, just beyond geostationary, to prevent accidental burns to geostationary hardware and of Earth itself from the traveling solar super-beam. Receptor arrays would themselves "dip" into the intense light beam during transmission time, which would permit heat (and speed) gain only to the amount able to be reradiated away directionally against the remaining orbital path.
Power might be beamed from the intersection of the super-beam and the receptor's orbits via safe large-area microwave energy across to one of the relay satellites in polar geostationary orbits. These would each redirect the wide-area energy beam to ground receptors at either polar location. I realize the clockwork space choreography would require intense design calculations to place all the components in place at correct orbital and rotational velocities, but what a fun challenge for those mathmatically inclined with access to supercomputer or parallel computing technology!
Provision for on-orbit adjustments to each mirror array will be provided, perhaps by the addition of programmed lightweight solar "fins" positioned physically at the edges of all mirrors, that properly tuned and focussed the orbiting bodies as coordinated by a central communicating processor to keep each array under Earth-based control. Re-tuning may be required at intervals as the solar stream approached becoming too dispersed for safe operation at minimum broadcast strength, itself still many times the level required to power Earth.
It takes little stretch to imagine that multiple use of such super-beam could be reflected into and about the solar system to provide power to other locations where large amounts of energy may need to be delivered, allowing motive power and material production on a scale limited only by local environmental limitations and human mores. Undoubtedly, exploitation of solar system resources must eventually become constrained by mutually agreed restrictions, just as it has on Earth whenever the global commons is threatened with irreparable damage.
Note: It may well be that properly applied results of AD 1895-1903 experiments into particle beams and broadcast AC power could yet alliviate the need for the exotic transmission technologies I describe. Others are already working along the lines of unified theory to try to of energy beyond our prior comprehension.
However I fear few people exist with the extaordinary vision that was shared with humanity by () or () by experimenting with such expansive ideas! Well, if this page serves to educate humanity further about the feasibility, nea, necessity of pursuing a like dream, I'll at least have done some small part of the good work.
And PLEASE, if you are an individual in any way connected with human detentions, assassinations or corporate buyouts for the purpose of quashing such technology while traditional markets continue to function, desist these activities immediately.
I ask the world to
bend a denser form of the sun's natural power to intersect at orbits near earth that will move in sync with the earth's solar revolution, so that orbital energy transformations may supply surface distribution terminals via superconductors from distant polar power microwave recepticles. Can you envision spectacular new energy auroras, at both magnetic poles? An alternative use in situ of this curving river of energy may be transformation of secondary fuels such as heavy water for nuclear fusion reactors that could safely be distributed over the planet's surface, which along with wind turbines and pumped water reservoirs could provide distributed power backup storage/resources. Additionally, small laser-like beams could be deflected away from the primary stream of white light to allow solar-wind sailboats and sailing cargo to receive turbo-boosts of acceleration, or perhaps operate with less sail or no sail at all!
breathing cleansed air and drinking clear and abundant fresh water. Imagine the natural balances of Earth's climate reclaimed, and possibly managed for benefit of some future time. Imagine the restored brightness of day and coolness of night that humanity has enjoyed for nearly all of it's developmental history, except for times of unfathomable horror and terrible harvesting such as the volcanic super-eruption of 72,000 BC or the mega-super-floods that ended the last ice age. The brightness of day and cool of the night has increasingly been sparely experienced since 1988. If humanity successfully cooperated to limit Carbon emissions and create an era of solar abundance, imagine the grateful species, known and unknown, that now tread a precipice of destruction. They are wedged today between declining capacity, scattered ecosystems hemmed in by human development on about half of the planet - the "good" half - while climatic adjustments are being forced at unprecedented evolutionary rates. Imagine also the rapid arival of new species and variaggation to fill the niches vacated by unfortunate flaura and fauna extincted at the turn of the second millenium CE.
Careful energy regulation could soon become a distant memory, for every step in the production and distribution of this new energy could safely allow a super-abundance to spill over at the edges. The resulting flow should pack an earth grid with more than sufficient juice to power all of humanity's contemporary and future endeavors: transportatial, material, artistic, spiritual and residential. Double levels of backup supply would be provided by the soon-to-become-ancient floating nuclear backup reactors in high Earth orbit, and distributed solar power systems (wind, instream hydro, wave, split-water hydrogen fuel cell) and geo systems (tidal, geothermal), and potentially even safe fusion sources on the Earth's surface. Maintenance of such a system would become a democratic social contract rather than a hierarchical mechanical ownership system.
Superstreamed into a world-wide net of
perhaps ambient-temperature superconductors, an energy flow exceeding our wildest dreams could become a pure economic utility, similar to the utility of public education in U.S. history. With all meters forgotten, the new energy infrastructure could serve as headwater for every public good in cooperative human societies poised to reap unimaginable rewards of health, fulfillment, diversification and prosperity.
Winston Churchill famously intoned that fear itself was the strongest enemy the British had to fear. I say that the attitude of eternal scarcity and warfare intrinsic to our economic and ecologic institutions creates the condition itself. Take courage.
Simple, inexhaustible energy!
would be revered by some as much as it would be taken for granted and wasted by others. But together we might, in the space of these early 2000 CE centuries, discover our global adolescence of crisis and vigor settled into an acceptable maturation of warmer, wetter, wiser mid-life, grown of aspect, respect and purpose. Please do all that you can to steward and implement a miraculous dream for future life, health and daily bread on this our planet, and any elsewhere that life may wander.
Paul Martin Suckow,
Visionaire Planner and Environmental Policy wonk,